The only ‘excellent’strategy is to win!

Oct 28, 2002 11:54 PM

   I’ve been around this game long enough to know just what it is that I’m looking to get out of playing video poker. If you have the nerve to come right out and say, “I play only to win money” then I’ll make you the captain of my team.

   If you’re interested enough in video poker to be reading this column, you likely have more than a passing interest in the game. I know that a good many who read it have video poker on their minds all the time. Most residents who play the game probably believe what they’ve been told in the past and continue to be preached on, by those who make their living from the commercialization of gambling mathematics. They end up thinking that if they only play games with a theoretical return over 100% they will win. If it’s 99.99% they will lose. And if it’s an even 100%? Well, then they must be wasting their time.

   But all of us look for an excellent play. To winners, that simply means what it essentially says — to walk into a casino, sit at your favorite machine, and experience excellence. Because I changed my method of play from the optimal/expert/advantage malarkey, I know very well about experiencing excellence — to the tune of 140 winning sessions out of 149. I know how to win because I know how to quit when I win. I know how to experience excellence because I do exactly the opposite as the casino wants me to do. I know how not to lose because I know it’s one big mistake expecting to perform according to probability theories and math models. And I know how to set goals before I walk through those doors as well as to stick to doing what it is I say I am going to do under all circumstances — regardless of the temptations the casino serves up to me.

   I’ve said this many times, but to most ”˜advantage’ players it either gets blocked out by the erroneous pink noise inside, or it goes right through that hole in their head. You must have a plan of what you will do at the machines before going into the casino — and you must never deviate from that plan.

   There’s many times I read on chat boards about players asking if there are any “good plays” at this casino, “playable video poker machines” at that casino, or “on-going or special promotions” at any casino. This alone is enough to cause experienced gamblers to shake their heads. But then we’re treated to further ramblings such as “This casino has a game that pays back 99.6%, and with .25% cash back and .2% bounce back cash, Gee! — this is an excellent play!” Or “It’s playable!” Why? Because the misguided player can add. The 100.05% is more than 100%, so the guru thinking is that since there is something other than zeroes to the right of the 100, this is a winning machine. But what if there were no bounce back cash allowed by the casino? Well, 99.85% isn’t quite 100%, so “expert” players are told this machine must be avoided at all costs, because it is a LOSER! What does that mean? You tell me, then tell them, and we’ll all know.

   Playing the best pay tables around is always a good idea of course. But for any player, 97% is as good as 101% if they play by a set of rules. If anyone thinks you cannot win on any machine that, when hooked up to a perfect-play computer will yield a 3% loss over eternity, you have been listening to the wrong people selling paraphernalia for a long time. I myself play more “loser” machines than “winners”. The biggest royal of my life was this year on a less-than-100% $25 8/5 Bonus Poker machine — and I wasn’t receiving any of the sacred cash back because I know better than to use a slot club card while playing professionally. And because I knew how to get up and go home immediately after the hit, guess what? I kept it, and since my 2002 goal was surpassed at the same time, I am not playing for profit again until 2003. That’s what goals do for you. That’s what a solid plan will do for you. For those who choose to sit in smoke-filled casinos for hours each day (or on each day of their visit to Nevada and other gaming locations across the country), you have little chance of winning consistently unless you are extremely lucky. The choice is rather simple: Play to win, or play to lose. Only then will you realize what an “excellent play” truly is.